The Socceroos' World Cup qualifying campaign is in trouble after an upset loss in Amman to Jordan, with the hosts scoring twice in the second half in front of rabid support
|By DAMIEN SOUNESS
Australia's hopes of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup suffered a setback as Jordan recorded a famous 2-1 win in Amman on Tuesday.
The Socceroos had the best chances on goal but were unable to convert as the home side capitalised on 90 minutes of relentless pressure at the King Abdullah International Stadium.
Hassan Abdel Fattah and Amer Deeb scored for Jordan in the second half, with substitute Archie Thompson pulling a goal back for the visitors in the dying stages.
The loss leaves Australia with just two points from three matches in Group B, while Jordan [four points], who have never reached the World Cup finals, climbed to second behind Japan .
Australia head coach Holger Osieck made just one change to the side that defeated Lebanon in a friendly on Thursday, with Brett Holman replacing Nikita Rukavytsya.
The Socceroos jumped out of the blocks and should have scored through Tim Cahill in the fourth minute when Robbie Kruse breezed past his opponent and played the ball to Alex Brosque.
Brosque touched it through to Cahill, but Jordan goalkeeper Amer Shafi covered the shot from close range.
Cahill and Brosque were prominent early, causing headaches for the Jordan defence, though the Socceroos appeared unsettled in the midfield and struggled to maintain possession.
Australia were forced to make an unexpected change in the 13th minute when Sasa Ognenovski succumbed to a hamstring injury, making way for Matthew Spiranovic.
Jordan, buoyed by the raucous home support, rarely troubled Socceroos custodian Mark Schwarzer but grew in confidence and upped the ante in the latter stages of the half with a flurry of attacks.
Mile Jedinak replaced Mark Bresciano, who picked up a knock, at the interval for Australia and should have scored with his first touch, but instead directed his free header wide of the target.
Australia were rocked soon after when Jedinak was drawn into a contest with Odai Al Saify, who earned his side a penalty with minimal contact.
Fattah converted the spot kick in the 47th minute, handing Jordan the lead to the thunderous applause of the Jordan fans.
Cahill had a golden opportunity to level the scores in the 65th minute but had his header tipped over the crossbar before Jedinak fired a powerful shot from outside the penalty area that hit the woodwork.
Al Saify worked his way past Australia captain Lucas Neill in a counter attacking move in the 77th minute, playing the ball into the path of Deeb to double Jordan's advantage.
Deeb could have put the result beyond further doubt when he chipped Schwarzer minutes later, but landed his shot on the roof of the net.
Thompson, who replaced Holman minutes earlier, gave Australia an element of hope in the 87th minute, finding a gap in the Jordan defence and firing a low shot into left side of the net.
Robbie Kruse had an opportunity to steal a point for Australia in injury time but had his shot saved as Jordan, ranked 87th in the world, defied the odds and secured three valuable points.
Australia will take on Iraq in Doha next up, while Jordan travel to face Oman on October 16.